Into The Darkness Nazi Germany Today
Book Source: Digital Library of India Item 2015.180053
dc.contributor.author: Lothrop Stoddard
dc.identifier: RMSC, IIIT-H
dc.description.scanningcentre: RMSC, IIIT-H
dc.publisher.digitalrepublisher: Universal Digital Library
dc.publisher: Duell Sloan Amp Pearce Inc
dc.rights: Copyright Protected
dc.title: Into The Darkness Nazi Germany Today
dc.rights.holder: Lothrop Stoddard
Subject: From the Darkness to Oblivion: Lothrop Stoddard's Last Book
An inability to come to grips with his relationship to the "New People in a New State" is one aspect of the book that is a disappointment. Stoddard clearly was not just one of the ordinary journalists that were taking up residence in Berlin for any extended period of time. But there is nothing that the author discloses about his well-established views and their prior reception by leading ethnologists and anthropologists of the Third Reich, as well as other figures who expounded its racial doctrines and propaganda. Such omissions of background might be understandable as a result of the war and the guarded relations between the still officially neutral United States and Germany and possibly some mixed feelings of his own about the course the racialist state was taking even before war came. Yet the absence of any but the briefest reflections about his arrival as a journalist and the circumstances leading up to it is a definite shortcoming. With respect to the subtitle of an "uncensored report," Stoddard does not hide the fact that there were definite boundaries which Nazi officialdom placed around him and other journalists. One chapter is explicitly entitled "Closed Doors." Not only certain military zones were off limits, as would be expected, but inquiries into actual conditions in the recent acquisitions of Bohemia-Moravia and the German zone of Poland were effectively restricted to rumor mills. Yet he was probably singularly privileged in making his own observations of the deteriorating plight of the Jews and receiving "real-time" insight into the eugenics procedures in place for several years.
On the basis of an obvious but undisclosed rapport, Stoddard was able to secure interviews with such leading figures as Heinrich Himmler (a significant "scoop"), Joseph Goebbels, and Adolf Hitler himself. Dr. Goebbels was probably the most animated conversationalist; Himmler was straight forward about some aspects of the Gestapo's activities, but gave a cleaned-up description of the ethnic relocations going on in Poland--Stoddard not being deceived; Hitler alluded to his desire to continue his architectural revival now disrupted by hostilities. He even met with Gertrud Scholz-Klink, director of the German Women's Organization. In Slovakia, then a satellite, but still not in the war, he interviewed Head of State Fr. Jozef Tiso. Stoddard also takes us along on escorted visits to farms and factories, gives us a look at Berlin at war, and recalls his visits to Slovakia and Hungary. He looked in on the "Life-Standard" SS barracks near Berlin, saw its immense swimming pool (actually designed on the spot by Hitler to make it more accommodating for his bodyguard division); and carefully observed the proceedings of the eugenics supreme court that (during his viewing) sent cases back for further study or even allowed one of the subjects to remain unsterilized. Stoddard warmed to the subject: he found the court meticulous in its approach and the Third Reich humane and constructive as no other state in promoting sound births and reducing its congenitally deficient population. Nor, as a eugenicist could he quarrel with the regime's 10 commandments for mate selection: the first definitely stating that all an individual achieves is owed to membership in the German racial community. The upshot must be that the individual is no end in himself, but a cell in the living organism of the folk-community. Regrettably, Stoddard was not aware of the Fuhrer order at the beginning of the war that decreed the extirpation of the incurably handicapped in favor of making more hospital space for wounded servicemen (Aktion T4).
Though generally critical of Jews in his prior writings on both psychological and physiognomic grounds ("disharmonic blend"), his recollections of authorized visits to Jewish apartments during his stay, as well as hearing gratuitous occasional toasts from Party members ("May the Jews die!"), clearly set forth his opposition to any cruelty in what was basically a most inhumane situation for those Jews remaining in Germany at the outbreak of the war. He did point out that there was some parallel in the treatment meted out to Jews in the Third Reich to the Turkish nationalists' determination to remove their Greek and Armenian populations even if it hurt the economy for a considerable period of time. As Kemal Attaturk and his associates made clear to Stoddard in Ankara: What are 10, 20, or even 30 years in the life of a nation? To the economic vindictiveness shown by the "Kemalists," the Nazi's inserted their own set of racial animosities, Stoddard added, while noting that anti-Semitism had already been widespread in Germany well before the advent of Hitler. His view was that while most Germans deplored the particular acts of violence and ill-treatment that the Jews experienced, particularly in the late 1930's, they would not want to see the Jews return after their undoubted impending physical elimination. Probably, Stoddard was not thinking in terms of literal extermination--rather deportation--but one can't be entirely certain. Nor can we be sure that most Germans, particularly of the older generations, wanted a completely "Jew-free" Germany.
The reader may speculate as to the use of the word "Darkness" in the title. There was no need to be ambiguous: This was actually the literal situation that Stoddard found: a stringent British blockade enforced in the North Sea and Gibraltar (which he experienced first hand), strict rationing of food and clothing, strong controls on business decisions and profits, and the onset of a severely cold winter that froze vital waterways such as the Danube, plaguing delivery of resources already very limited for the civilian population of Berlin and most urban areas. Alcohol remained plentiful, and Germans downed beer, schnapps, and even champagne as never before: "I saw a great deal of public drunkenness," was Stoddard's straight-forward comment. Although Stoddard was housed, along with some of the other neutral-nation journalists, at the plush Adlon Hotel in Berlin, he was overjoyed at the opportunity to re-visit still neutral Hungary where, in addition to having talks with various journalists and statesmen, he could savor much more balanced meals and, to boot, real coffee topped with whipped cream-- plus enjoyable company and entertainment among an "aristocratic" people. There is something hauntingly familiar about his description of the comparative availability in Hungary (even under some pre-war restrictions of its own) for those who traveled there after a visit to the Soviet Union and, particularly, the Romania of Ceausescu.
Again, this time in his enthusiastic approval of Hungary, the issue of candor strikes the reader sufficiently familiar with what Stoddard had written previously. He esteemed Hungary, although its population is composed of a variety of racial elements to include whites of all shades and skeletal configurations, as well as persons of mixed Europid/Mongolid ancestry. Particularly prevalent is the Alpine, the round-skulled race of whites that had left Stoddard unimpressed in the 1920's. During his stay in Hungary, he tremendously enjoyed partying with Magyars during the Christmas-New Year's season and admired how those Gypsy entertainers could play. Of course he understood that the "Tziganes" were of a brown-skinned stock that was part of the rising colored tide he had warned against.
Stoddard realized he was being shown everything that would put Germany in the most favorable light, but does indicate that, on balance, the regime had been very acceptable to most workers and probably farmers (officially Bauer)--especially on the North German mid-sized holdings he examined on one of his tours, where ample food was available. The increasing regimentation of the German economy by the late 1930's and the war itself raised questions about the of loyalty the workers, and drained capital and labor away from farming, but the security National Socialism provided to the blue-collar class and the relative absence of rationing for farmers after September 1939, prevented any really significant opposition in these sectors. (Such potential opposition from those quarters became an abstraction after Stoddard left, when great numbers of farmers and workers became conscripts in the growing ranks of a military involved in incredibly far-ranging campaigns--their replacements were women and, increasingly, various levels of workers--voluntary and forced--from all sections of Europe.)
Looking around in the provincial cities and meeting local party officials when on a junket with other correspondents, Stoddard was not impressed with most of the people he met, particularly their "pretentiously dowdy" wives. One group had definitely triumphed in the Nazi revolution: the empowerment of the lower middle-class seemed its central accomplishment. He remarked about its "inordinate presence" outside the great metropolitan centers, as part of the entourage of the Gauleiters,who governed the new regional units of the Reich. The Nationalist Socialist upheaval evidently lacked the aristocratic aspect that so charmed the pedigreed New Englander in Hungary.
Frequently, Stoddard lets Nazi ideology speak for itself in variations of the phrase, "the common interest above self." This slogan in its practical aspects made an increasingly poor impression on businessmen, the one group Stoddard saw as the most hampered by the war restrictions that were developing even before 1939. This Wehrwirtschaft, as Stoddard describes it, deserves careful consideration as to Hitler's aims, or at least expectations, by the late 1930's. If he did not really want war in 1939, and even hoped that Chamberlain's England would stay out of Germany's "ethnic rescue operations" on its eastern border, he did not necessarily think that a major conflict was avoidable. Imposition of this constricting economy of scarcity rather than reliance on further development of peaceful trade made hegemonic domination of areas for ready access to food supplies (e.g., Denmark) or oil and a vast stream of raw materials (to wit, the U.S.S.R.) a logical outcome, even if one puts aside the ideology of Lebensraum and purely military motives as the prime movers of these particular invasions.
Stoddard's transition to journalism from a background in history (Harvard doctorate) proved smooth and effective: he was actually a skillful writer, employing a descriptive narrative of interviews, tours, and travels, that in its somewhat archaic, almost 19th century style, is very absorbing. His description of a plane ride to Vienna from Berlin, through clear skies and into cloud banks, with a quick view of Prague, is worthy of a novel. He carefully distinguishes his interview of Hitler (actually an audience, not to be fully divulged), who greeted him very courteously, but then became more distracted and distant, with a prior talk with Mussolini--who used his mesmerizing eyes to convey a definite personal interest in the interviewer. We are left with much to reflect on. Stoddard obtained a good publisher and a reasonable review in The Saturday Evening Post--undoubtedly there were others; yet his return to the light marked his eclipse. No sequel appeared. He had another decade of life to see the end of his own era of white racial self-confidence, a genocide he may have predicted, the rise of the Soviet Union and its advance into Eastern Europe and Central Germany, a new decades-long Cold War, and the rise of the Third World.
Subject: An odd book by a flawed author
Stoddard's own background is interesting in itself - he was a member of the KKK and a racist so I was expecting that to come through in the text but he obviously toned that down in order to reach a wider audience. Presumably these personal views helped him get the interviews with Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler (!!!) that are contained in the book - none exactly earth shattering but interesting to read. He also attends a eugenics court session which he regards as being much too lenient.
In fairness, there is criticism of the Nazi regime in the book and he lets us know that he is only able to provide a partial account of what is happening in Germany. Stoddard is sharp enough to know that there are many areas off limits to a foreign correspondent and that the Nazi regime is based on coercion and violence, so all is not as it seems on the surface.Obviously this was all before the horrific scale of the crimes that the Nazis perpetrated was fully known.
The book and does provide some interesting first-hand information about attitudes, everyday life and the political issues dominating during the early part of the war before the barbarism began in earnest - however the odious background of the author should always be taken into account.
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